Pittsburgh’s Perfect Ten
March 9, 2009 by Big Tony
The Pittsburgh Penguins have won six in a row, eight of the last nine and when five-for-five in their most recent road trip yielding them ten points out of a possible ten. Since hiring Bylsma, Pittsburgh is 8-1-1 with an increase in the level of scoring, a rise in offensive zone pressure and spectacular goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury. Not only did the road trip go very well for the Penguins but in those five games, four of the teams are either in a playoff spot or are tied in points with a team who is. The addition of Chris Kunitz has been priceless thus far as he has netted three goals in four games and five points overall. Kunitz gives them a presence in front of the net they missed dearly with the loss of Ryan Malone. Along with Kunitz was the acquisition of Billy Guerin who has provided invaluable experience and a right-handed forward for a power play that has improved with every game since the return of Sergei Gonchar. Pittsburgh’s power play scoring has not exactly been stellar, but the amount of opportunities they are creating is more than they have in months. The amount of movement for those with and without the puck has increased which is a substantial change from recent months and will only lead to more scoring which is key to the Penguin’s continued success.
As great as the last ten games have gone for Pittsburgh they have needed to use every point gained to reach a playoff position. Right now they stand in eighth with 76 points tied with Florida and New York ahead of them and are only one point behind fifth place Montreal. However, Carolina and Buffalo are breathing down their necks and even a minor slip up can spoil this ten game party. Thus far the trades have been great, the coaching move is paying dividends and Fleury has elevated his game. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh they cannot celebrate their recent success too much because they almost have to go 8-1-1 in their NEXT ten in order to ensure themselves a playoff spot. The Penguins have certainly proven that this new look team can make a lot of noise in the NHL’s second season; but for now… they just have to get there.